Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise

Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise

Media release Friday 27 February 2015

Earlier this week Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced that benefits will increase by 0.51% on 1 April.

Yesterday MPs were granted a 5.5% pay increase, backdated.

“The contrast couldn’t be starker,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson and former Green MP Sue Bradford.

“Anyone who doubts that we’re moving daily towards a more unequal society only has to look at the gap.

“The value of benefits constantly declines as any increase is tied to inflation, currently at record low levels of around 0.8%.

“The nett weekly base rate for a single person on Jobseeker Support aged 25 or older will go up by an extra $1.07 per week – $55.64 per year.

“The nett weekly base rate for a sole parent will go up by a princely $1.53 per week – $79.56 per year.

“John Key will receive an extra $457.69 per week – $23,800 per year

“The ability of working age beneficiaries to meet even the most basic living costs reduces daily because of the way benefit increases are set.

“The notorious 1991 benefit cuts were never restored under either National or Labour governments and because of the way annual increases are calculated, poverty constantly deepens for unemployed people, sole parents, and the injured, sick and disabled who are dependent on income support.

“Superannuitants and Veterans pensions will go up by 2.07% on 1 April, in line with 66% of the average wage. As ever, working age beneficiaries and their children are treated with far less respect and fairness.

“As a former MP I understand the embarrassing predicament MPs now find themselves in, as their salary rates are set by the Remnueration Authority and cannot be rejected.

“One of the best ways out of this embarrassment would be for government to lift the base rate of working age benefits to cover the gap left by the benefit cuts, and to calculate annual increases in the same way as superannuation.

“Ultimately a fair and adequate Universal Basic Income alongside a government commitment to decent job creation and free access to training and education is the real way forward out of the current welfare mess.”

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Crash the (National) Party

Crash the (National) Party

Demo at National’s Summer Party 3pm Sunday 15 Feb

This coming Sunday John Key and National Party friends are holding a ‘Summer Party’ at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland.

Auckland Action Against Poverty is organising a counter-party.

Crash the (National) Party

3.00pm Sunday 15 February

Royal Akarana Yacht Club

8 Tamaki Drive, Okahu Bay

“We plan to let attendees know that we have had enough of the government’s pointless and punitive policies on welfare and housing,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“Every day we work with people who are suffering the consequences of Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms.

“Anne Tolley has been almost silent since becoming Minister of Social Development.

“We think it’s high time she started fronting up about the serious long term impacts of her predecessor’s reforms.

“It is commonplace to see people denied benefits to which they’re entitled and left deliberately without food and/or anywhere to live.

“The drive to push and keep people out of the benefit system might drop numbers in the official statistics, but no one keeps track of what happens when people are denied access to support.

“In his opening speech to Parliament last week John Key said he wants to ‘carry on making the country more wealthier (sic).’

“On Sunday afternoon we’ll be giving him and his mates the message that it’s high time they took serious action to reverse the welfare reforms and start building thousands of state houses rather than focusing their assistance on helping those who already are a lot ‘more wealthier’.

Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1598167087064990/?pnref=story
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Intolerable pressure real cause of MSD security issues

Intolerable pressure real cause of MSD security issues

Media release Wednesday 11 February 2015
“The MSD report released yesterday deals with the consequences of a system which daily sets out to harass, belittle and punish people while failing to recognise deeper causes of security problems,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“The intolerable pressure placed on staff and beneficiaries by successive welfare reforms is the true cause of security problems at Work & Income offices.

“There is no question that MSD staff deserve to be safe at work, as do all workers.

“But Government should be looking way beyond guards and risk compliance policies for genuine, longterm solutions.

“What’s needed is a wholesale change to welfare policies and practices, starting with an end to the culture of denial which sees thousands of people turned down each day for the support to which they’re entitled.

“At Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Mangere beneficiary ‘impact’ in August 2014 we helped over 500 people in three days.

“Almost all of them had been being treated with some degree of disregard and disentitlement by the department. We continue to help people in similar situations on a daily basis.

“National’s welfare reforms have focused on pushing or keeping people off benefits no matter the consequences for their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

“This has meant that many of the most vulnerable people in the country are constantly harassed as a matter of everyday practice.

“The stress is often unbearable, and it is nonsensical for the Minister Anne Tolley and John Key to pretend otherwise.

“It’s high time we had a serious review of welfare policy and practice. The current departmental culture hurts all involved. It’s way past time for a change.”

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Guy Standing speaks on Universal Basic Income

Guy Standing speaks on Universal Basic Income Wed 11 Feb, Auckland
Tomorrow night AAAP is hosting a public meeting with Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network which promotes the concept of a UBI (Universal Basic Income) internationally.

The meeting takes place 6.00-8.00pm Wednesday 11 February, Onehunga Community Centre, 83 Church St, Onehunga.

Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Guy Standing is a development studies professor at London University, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network and author of recently published book A precariat charter: from denizens to citizens.

“This is a chance to hear about UBI from one of the world’s most knowledgeable and respected advocates,” says AAAP spokesperson Sue Bradford.

“The idea of a UBI has been talked about off and on in New Zealand over the last few decades but has never really gained much traction.

“The most visible version of a UBI here is Gareth Morgan’s ‘Big Kahuna’, but our group has considerable problems with it, in part because it would leave many people who are currently beneficiaries in an even worse position than they are at present.

“We are looking forward to hearing Guy Standing share his knowledge and experience of working with UBI networks internationally, and to the questions and discussion which will follow his presentation.

“Anyone who shares our interest is cordially invited to join us tomorrow evening.”

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